Playing with 1921-Ds

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Playing with 1921-Ds

Post by DHalladay » Wed Apr 05, 2023 5:17 pm

1921-D MS67 copy.jpg
1921-D MS67 copy.jpg (169.79 KiB) Viewed 387 times

“Hello, my name is Dennis and I collect 1921-D VAMs.”

If I ever join an addiction support group, I already know how the “I have a problem” introduction goes.

I started a 1921-D SSDC Registry Date Set about 18 months ago. It probably began as a result of prolonged exposure to 1921-P VAMs – along with naive confidence from seeing that “only“ 230 coins are involved in the set. “Ought to be a piece of cake compared to more than twice as many in the P set, right?”

Coins from all three Mints in 1921 are the ignored stepchildren of the Morgan collecting world. Way too many were made. Tons still survive. They are super plentiful in XF-AU grades and cheap pretty much across the board. Some can be beautiful, although most aren’t. It’s no surprise that so many turn up in melt buckets and belt buckles.

All are reasons why I started a D set, plus the fact that so few other others have done so. The 1921-D SSDC Date Set Registry currently shows just 17 sets. Only four are at least 30% complete and the #1 set, suspiciously, is just 58.3% complete. It didn’t take me long to start to understand why.

They may exist, but…

Doing a set with 230 different VAMs is an undertaking that deserves taking a serious pause for “hold on, let’s think about this a little more carefully” because:
– 32 have a registered SSDC population of 0
– 39 have a registered SSDC population of 1
– 23 have a registered SSDC population of 2

That’s right, for 41% of the set there is a big possibility that painfully few examples may exist. When you include pop-3 and pop-4 coins, then almost 58% of the set falls into that category. If your Plan A is to buy coins that are already identified, you could be in for some very long waits. Or it could mean trying to track down discovery owners to sweet-talk them into selling their babies. Good luck with that too.

Plan B, then, is to find your own coins. That’s the fun option, especially if you are able to attend shows or visit coin shops fairly often – and are able to remember at least some of the coins you already have (the more the better). Here are some things you can expect along the way:
– You will get tired of seeing the same 25 or so certified and attributed VAMs offered for sale on eBay.
– You will get really tired of seeing VAM 1B1 “Capped R”.
– You will occasionally see VAM 1A “TRU_Ts” that have too much of the S left to be legitimate “TRU_Ts and you’ll occasionally see one that has all of the S. Seriously. Don’t accept what a holder says, judge for yourself.
– With modest patience and cash you should be able to get 50 different coins without too much trouble.
– The next 50 will take more patience and more determined buying. A little luck will also help.
– At some point, perhaps from the get-go or maybe later as patience begins to erode, you will start looking at unattributed coins.
– Multi-coin raw groups will begin whispering in your ear to take a chance.
– As you continue buying unattributed coins you will find new discoveries.

Attribution challenges

“Which one is this?” is a constant question for the 1921-D date set. Thankfully, there are two good attribution tools on VAMworld. However, both are works in progress and are far from complete, so it’s not unusual for new coin purchases to go unknown for a long time. And just so you know, message board help will be limited; there just don’t seem to be many people who know much about 1921-D VAMs.
– The 1921-D die crack map guide can make identification relatively quick and easy, except only 108 VAMs currently have them. Making crack maps is tedious and detail-intensive, and it is up to new discovery owners to find a way to get them made and posted, which helps explain why so many are missing.
– The crack maps that are there are super helpful, but they are not always a magic attribution bullet. Between a die pair’s DMPL birth and VLDS death it’s entirely possible for cracks to have grown from nothing to extreme, yet crack map drawings are only a snapshot taken from one coin at one point in that ever-changing lifetime.
– Some cracks can be extremely similar on different VAMs, so don’t be too quick to congratulate yourself about the first apparent match you arrive at. The coin you have in hand may not look exactly like a crack map, so a certain amount of EDS-MDS-LDS interpretation may be needed.
– Some coins, especially EDS examples, don’t have cracks at all. Others are missing from the guide because examples with cracks haven’t turned up yet, or the owners haven’t shared images with the VAM community.
– For coins whose crack maps don’t exist, high magnification (beyond the range of a hand loupe) is needed to identify their unique scribbles. This is a more complicated step, but’s it’s where and how new discoveries are most likely to be found.
– The current 1921-D scribbles guide is far more complete than the crack guide: there are 181 coins represented. That’s great news, but it still means that 49 are missing. A big reason why is there is nothing easy about taking pictures of scribbles that are big enough and clear enough to be helpful to others. Specialized equipment is a must, and the learning curve (especially with lighting) takes time, patience, and eventually skill.

killer coins.jpg
killer coins.jpg (146.22 KiB) Viewed 387 times

Consider a complete set to be impossible

Before you start, be forewarned: Putting together an entire 1921-D VAM set is basically impossible. There are two huge reasons why:
– Two killer stoppers exist: VAMs 1H4 and 1X2 (shown above). Only one example of each spectacular, ultra-LDS monster cud is currently known to exist. They were discovered in 2015 and 2001, and the fact that no additional examples have been found since speaks volumes about what the chances are that the rest of us will find one.
– New 1921-D VAMs are discovered every year, and each pokes a new “I need that one” hole in every set except the lucky finder’s.

Challenges and impossibility aside, collecting in the shallow end of the Morgan cost pool where 1921-Ds live is great fun. There is lots of learning to be had and making new discoveries is quite possible. Come in and take a dip.

P.S. – The amazing 1921-D seen at the start of this article is in the crack guide. It’s VAM 1CL, formerly known as JOH-24.
When in doubt... don't.

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Re: Playing with 1921-Ds

Post by VamHelsing » Wed Apr 05, 2023 7:05 pm

Very cool, thanks!

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Re: Playing with 1921-Ds

Post by JohnGoldsmith » Thu Apr 06, 2023 3:55 am

I will stick to the easy 8 tail set.

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Re: Playing with 1921-Ds

Post by SilverToken » Thu Apr 06, 2023 12:43 pm

Thanks Dennis for all of your help, contributions, tips, and wealth of knowledge.... so well written.

21's are addicting. So many art-like die failures with cracks, scribbles, frozen grease plugged dies (my theory) for 1 year. It really was a shame that the 16 year pause in Morgan production happened, but it did produce a new master Die, by a new hand, for just a year, and every F has a Toe!

Fun with 21 by Rob Joyce was perfectly named.

Be safe and keep those eyes sharp, wish Eye had your vision!
When it's no longer fun, I think I'm done!

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Re: Playing with 1921-Ds

Post by UNCLE BINGO » Fri Apr 07, 2023 1:04 am

Thanks Mr.D Very informative !!! Those cuds are off the hook BTW . You will just have to forgive me for liking that 1B1 . Yours is especially cool by the way ! :D
" May your clashes be EDS , your breaks be LDS , and your wife not have PMS over your collecting habits! " ;)

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